Iraqi parliament approves sweeping reform plans

GMT 23:08 2015 Tuesday ,11 August

Arab Today, arab today Iraqi parliament approves sweeping reform plans

Iraqi parliament
Baghdad - XINHUA

The Iraqi parliament on Tuesday approved a package of crucial reform plan presented by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, as well as an additional plan suggested by the parliament, which both came in response to recent demonstrations against corruption and poor services.

The session opened with the presence of 297 out of 328 members of parliament who unanimously voted in the first package of reforms submitted by the head of Council of Ministers Haider al-Abadi during its extraordinary session on Sunday.

The parliament's approval came after Abadi called for seven-point reform plan, including canceling the three vice presidential posts and the three deputy prime minister posts.

Afterwards, the parliament Speaker Salim al-Jubouri read an additional package of 25-point plan suggested by the parliament blocs, and the lawmakers again unanimously approved it.

On Sunday, Abadi declared his plan that also included reduction of ministries and agencies in order to increase efficiency in the performance of the government and reduce expenditures.

His plan called for immediate and comprehensive reduction of the numbers of guards for all top and senior officials, including the three presidents (state president, ministerial president and parliament speaker), ministers, members of parliament, provincial governors and provincial councils' members, in addition to other senior officials.

Abadi's measures included reduction of extra expenditures for the three presidencies and other government institutions in accordance with instruction to be issued later by Abadi.

It also included that a number of sensitive government posts to be filled by political and sectarian independents, and that the appointments of such posts would be in light of competence and integrity standards.

The parliament additional reform plan included sacking the ministers of electricity and finance within two weeks and gave more details about reducing the number of ministries, cutting the number of officials' security guards, in addition to issuing a law that would limit the three presidency posts to two terms.

On Tuesday, Jubouri told a press conference that the parliament's additional reform plan "is necessary to achieve a comprehensive reform process."

Abadi's move of reform measures came after massive demonstrations in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad and several other cities in the south to protest against slack public services, power shortage, and massive corruption.

His was also emboldened by the call of Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani who asked Abadi to be "more daring and courageous in his reforms."

"The government should make important decisions and take strong measures to fight corruption and achieve social justice. He should identify who is hampering the reform, whoever they are," Sistani said in his speech during the weekly Friday prayer in the holy city of Karbala, which was read by his representative Ahmed al-Safi.

Shortly after the call of Sistani, Abadi reacted and promised to follow Sistani's advice, calling for the other political parties to positively contribute to his reform plans, which aim at fighting corruption.

"I announce my total commitment to the directions of the religious Marjaiya (Shiite religious leadership), which has voiced the concerns and aspirations of the Iraqi people," Abadi said in a statement issued by his office on Friday.

Electricity supplies in Iraq collapsed in the chaos after the U.S. invasion in 2003 when power plants were looted or not properly maintained. The infrastructure has also been repeatedly targeted by insurgents.

However, people believe that corruption and incompetence were the main reasons behind the failure rebuilding the country's economy and the public services, including the power sector.

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